When A Rare Economic Opportunity Is Impeded By Official Procedures

Nima from Merak opened a furniture store in his locality but three months after it was still non-operational. The band saw and paneling machines were idle because Nima is facing a difficult time in getting timber for his newly opened furniture and woodcraft shop. Before Nima can harvest a tree, he has to go from one office to another to get permit.

Harvesting timber in Merak is not easy because the gewog falls under the jurisdiction of the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS). The gewog helped Nima in securing a loan amounting to Nu 165,000 from the rural enterprise development scheme (REDS) of the Department of Cottage and Small Industry so that Nima can buy the necessary equipment for woodcraft and furniture-making.

REDS which was launched in 2006 from the funding support of UNDP was supposed to provide financial assitance for potential entrepreneurs from rural areas so that they can purchase machinery and equipment for a new business or for expansion purposes. The scheme hopes to encourage self employment and to create job opportunities through the use of local resources. The goal of the scheme is to increase the income level of the people and alleviate their poverty.

However, even with the support of gewog, Nima still has to face the challenge of getting timber from Merak. According to the park officials, if Nima wants to harvest timber in large quantities, the application must be routed to the Department of Forests and Parks Services. Another option is to buy timber from the Natural Resources Development Corporation Ltd in Mongar or from sawmills in Rangjung.

Local entrepreneurs including the gewog feel that getting timber from Mongar and the far flung areas like Rangjung is not viable because it is more expensive in terms of transport. This is one example of a scheme that is bound to fail due to strict official procedures.

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